Miles: SEC Should Allow Equal Access to Championship

LSU coach Les Miles would like to protected rivalries eliminated in the SEC. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

LSU coach Les Miles’ despise of the SEC scheduling that allows annual inter-division rivalry partners in the league is hardly new at this point.

In case anyone had forgotten, Miles reminded reporters during a routine conference call on Wednesday.

“The key piece for any conference certainly is to allow equal access to be champion,” Miles said. “I suspect there’s going to be some questions there.”

Miles never specifically singled out Alabama – nor did he even imply he was discussing the two-time reigning national champs – but it’s clear that was the crux of his argument.

Miles’ LSU team plays Florida, which has re-emerged as a conference power after a brief, two-year stint away from the top of the league. His chief in-division competition, Alabama, plays a middling Tennessee program that hasn’t notched eight wins in a season since 2007.

It should be noted that LSU lost to Florida in Gainesville last year and the Tigers’ two games against East teams came against the Gators and South Carolina. Those two teams combined for a regular-season record of 21-3.

Alabama, meanwhile, played Tennessee and Missouri. Those two teams managed a total of three conference wins last year by each beating Kentucky and Missouri topping the Volunteers in overtime.

The scheduling doesn’t become more balanced this year. LSU hosts Florida and plays at Georgia. Those teams went a combined 22-2 during the regular season last year.

Conversely, the Crimson Tide plays Tennessee and Kentucky – a pair of teams that were 0-7 entering their 2012 season-finale matchup.

Upon Missouri and Texas A&M joining the SEC, presidents ultimately decided to keep the annual game partners to preserve rivalries such as Alabama-Tennessee and Georgia-Auburn. Both games, however, have been one-sided of late and seemingly leave two of the more powerful programs in the league with a benefit over, say, LSU and Florida.

Miles suggested dropping the annual rivalries and, instead, having computers randomly assign games across division lines.

To this point, SEC coaches have resisted the idea of going to a nine-game conference schedule. That could potentially allow for two random games between teams from opposite divisions while also keeping rivalries intact. Instead, the presidents favor keeping the rivalry and having just one randomly assigned game.

Odds are you won’t hear much complaining from Tuscaloosa or Athens. At the same time, it’s hard to blame Miles or Florida coach Will Muschamp for voicing their frustrations.

Topics: Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana State Tigers, Missouri Tigers, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee Volunteers

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  • diverdown48

    The conference changes. This year or in the next couple of years the Vols will rise up again. Kentucky has a new coach and put over 50k fans in the stands for their spring practice game. Ol Miss is coming on. Even the only private school in the conference, Vanderbilt, is making a lot of noise. Recruits across the country want to play in the SEC, the toughest conference in division one or whatever it is called now.

    Rivalries are important. They keep alive long running fan packing stadium games. There is a reason the SEC leads all leagues in home attendance games. One of the many is rivalries.

    On another point, playing in the SEC means every conference is a battle. Even though they play formidable non league schedules along with a few gimmes the competition is fierce every game. Gimme teams, those that you schedule to make money and give your team a supposed break, are even very competitive. If your school goes 1-11 but the one win is an SEC school, for the rest of the players lives they can say we beat Florida or Georgia or LSU or Alabama or etc. etc.

    Do a better job coaching Les. Watch the clock, stop eating grass and make the calls that let your superb athletes win games.

  • Luke Brietzke

    While I agree that the rivalries are important, it’s hard to argue that LSU gets a tough break here. As if Alabama needed an advantage, it gets a big one in 2013 with the scheduling.

    In a win-now, win-next-year, win-two-years-from-now-too conference, I don’t blame Miles for demanding change. That said, as you are writing, Miles’ team could simply take care of business.